Feed on

Ava and Technology

Ava is amazing at technology.  She’s better at using Jon’s phone than I am.

Alexa is on the table behind Ava’s head


We have an Alexa in the dining area and Ava is always adding things to its shopping list.  For awhile she was adding bird sticks, which is a phrase she loves to say.  It usually means a stick that you can use with a bird.  Like a chopstick that serves as a bird perch.  Then she kept adding milk to the shopping list.  Alexa has a feature where you can listen to the audio used to provide instructions.  I often check the audio when I’m at the grocery store because I can’t remember if I added the item or Ava did.  More recently Ava has been adding carrots to the shopping list.  We now have a lot of carrots in the house.


In our bedroom we use an Alexa to play music for Ava to fall asleep.  Ava likes to turn on the music.  She only wants music from KUSC, which is a classical music station in California.  When you instruct Alexa, she’ll say “Playing KUSC from Jon’s tunein in bedroom.”  The other night Ava made a joke where she told Jon to sing a song “from Jon’s tunein in bedroom.”


Ava likes asking Google questions on my phone.  It’s a great way to see what she’s thinking about.  The other day she asked Google how birds eat out of trees and how owls fly.  Ava also loves looking up YouTube videos about things.

Today we watched a video about baby mongooses.  Last week we watched a series of videos on baby snakes.  Before that we watched a video of a doctor removing a sea urchin spike from a woman’s toe.  There was a whole month when we watched videos of Mario beating Bowser in Mario Odyssey.

Bird Update

I work from home in a teeny tiny office off of our television room.  The birds live in there too, which means I spent more time with them now than I ever did before.


For about half the year they are good companions.  Starting about a week ago, their nestiness set in and it has made them so difficult.  Conner likes to mate on top of Stonewall for at least five times a day.  It makes Trevor upset and he starts yelling.  So Conner and Trevor will go into a nestbox together and Stonewall will start yelling.


But sometimes in the afternoon Conner wants to sit on my arm while I type.  He preens while Trevor and Stonewall take turns flying around being upset that Conner was not close to them.



Hawaii: Day 8

For our last day we headed up to Waimea Canyon.  Ava enjoyed chasing the chickens.


The canyon was beautiful, but also really cold.  I did not appreciate how cold it would be up there because the rest of Hawaii was so warm.  Ava was displeased.



We did some driving in the canyons and stopped at a little area with some forest.  Ava tried to lure the chickens out of the forest with peanuts and make a nest for them.


After Waimea Canyons, we drove out to Hanapepe for some more shopping.  On the way, we saw a rainbow that was like Hawaii’s request for us to come back soon.


I mentioned in Day 7 that we negotiated with Ava to wear a shirt by promising her a basket.  The house had these baskets with a very specific looking weave.  When we were shopping in Hanapepe I noticed that a gallery had purses held in a basket that looked just like the ones in the house!  It turns out that the baskets are made from the bark of the hala tree, which is a Hawaiian tree with a neat looking root structure.  The woman managing the gallery said that the basket was from the Ace Hardware right next to the airport.  We went straight there and I bought six baskets because they’re so particular to Hawaii and I knew Ava would be ecstatic.

Then we went to the airport and flew home.



Hawaii: Day 7

Day 7

We went back to Poipu Beach and ate poke on the beach.  All the chickens swarmed because we brought out food.


Ava was getting mad at the chickens and she wasn’t really interested in swimming.


We went back home to get Ava in a better mood.  After a few hours of relaxing, we went on a little adventure and walked to Whaler’s Cove, which has turtles.  They had a few turtles, but they were hard to see in the rocks.  There are three, can you see them?


We went back to the house and I tried to get Ava to wear the lama t-shirt that she wore the previous two years.  Ava hates short-sleeved t-shirts so she was very unhappy to have to wear it, even though we bargained for everything including the most precious thing we could give her – a basket.  I’ll talk about the basket on day 8.







We spent the evening playing in the yard where Ava gathered many flowers for Bowser and we watched the sunset.




One of the things we bargained for – Ava got to wear Jon’s owl hat for a little while.





Hawaii Day 6

In the morning we headed back to Crazy Beach.  The waves were so intense that we only stood in the water up to our ankles and it still knocked us down.


A lifeguard actually came out and told us not to go in the water.  None of that stopped the surfers, though, who looked like they were having an amazing time.


We had fun on the beach, though.  Ava made wood structures and Jon helped her create a city of sandcastles.



We had a lovely lunch at my favorite bakery, Midnight Bear Bakery and visited the Monkeypod Jam store.  They have a fantastic tomato jam that is perfect for grilled cheese sandwiches.  [Sidebar: we are vegetarians and Ava recently learned that other people eat meat.  When I tasted the tomato jam, I remarked that it tasted like barbeque sauce.  Ava asked what barbeque sauce is and I said people usually put it on pig meat.  Ava was horrified to learn that people eat pigs.  I think she might wind up being a militant vegan when she’s older.]

We had poke bowls for dinner from Makai Sushi.  After dinner we watched a gorgeous sunset at Baby Beach.


Ava loved watching all the birds settle into the trees along the shore.



I’m so glad I brought my camera that night.


Hawaii Days 4 and 5

Day 4

We went back to Poipu Beach.  Ava was in a stage where instead of being nice to the birds she just yelled at them.  We had been talking about how one of the sparrows was dirty and I think she took it to heart and decided that all the birds on the beach were dirty.  So if a bird came to close, she would yell about how it was a dirty bird.


We spent some time at the house to help Ava get back to her happy self and we spent the afternoon shopping in Hanapepe.  My favorite store is the Aloha Spice Company.  Even better, my favorite bakery is Midnight Bear Breads.  This bakery is amazing and you have to get there early because they close when they run out of stuff, which was sometimes two hours before their closing time.  Not only is their coffee good and strong, but they make the most amazing lunches.  One is homemade bread with avocados and radishes on top.


Day 5

We drove to the other side of the island to experience Ke’e Beach.  It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the beach, but fortunately Ava is a great traveler.  We stopped for some smoothies and shopping along the way.  Unfortunately we missed the 11-3pm window that the Hanalei Taro & Juice Co. was open, both visiting too early and too late before I figured out their hours online.  We’ll have to go back next year because they make the best homemade ginger beer.


The rain poured down when we were about 30 minutes from the beach.  We got to the beach and re-enacted the scene where Ava holds the phone at the western-most payphone in the country.


DSC_6723 (1)





We wandered around the forest until the rain died down.  There was no swimming while it was raining because the waves were really intense.  We actually had an adventure because the forest had a trail that led us to someone else’s land and we had to walk on their land to get back to the car.  Ava loves drama and always wants Bowser to be chasing her so we had Bowser chase her out of the land.

This beach is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen.  It’s perfect for swimming because there’s few rocks and the waves are mild.  This was also a perfect time to go because the rain made most people stay away so it was practically empty.


It also has the most aggressive chickens.  They started running towards us when they saw my backpack, hoping for food.


After the beach we drove back and stumbled onto a farmer’s market.  I love homemade food so I bought everything.  I bought pie, lemonade, fudge, cookies, and springrolls.  The space where the farmer’s market is located is gorgeous.


We made it back for sunset and ate poke for dinner from the Koloa Fish Market.



Hawaii Day 3

Day 3

We woke up and watched the birds rise with the sunrise around 6:50.  I try to burn images like this to my brain:


This year Jon bought us specialized snorkel equipment that was amazing.  Poipu Beach is one of the best places for snorkelling so we tried it out there.  Ava was excited at first because she could see all the fish.  You could hear her yell through the mask about this fish or that fish.  Unfortunately she got some water in the mask and didn’t want to use it again.  Hopefully next year she’ll use it because there’s a whole new world under the water.


I loved using my mask.  There were little fish with black stripes in yellow splotches, long flat fish with a silver stripe on top, orange and blue fish, long short fish with pointy mouths, and more and more!

Jon found the beach very relaxing:

DSC_6656 (1)

Kauai is filled with chickens and they are especially common at Poipu Beach.  Ava was frustrated that the chickens moved too fast to catch.  She wanted to catch them and put them in our house.  Ava started digging holes that she called chicken prison.  She was hoping that the chickens would willingly stay in her chicken prison.  We convinced her to rebrand it as a chicken hotel for marketing purposes, but she kept reverting back to calling it chicken prison.


An elusive chicken:


For lunch we ate veggie burgers at the beach.  I can’t remember where we ate for dinner.  Maybe Da Crack?

In the afternoon we did a little shopping and spent awhile hanging out at the house.  Ava is such a homebody that we tried to give her time to relax at the house.  She’s still obsessed with Princess Peach, Mario, and Bowser.  In Mario Odyssey Mario and Bowser are both trying to marry Princess Peach.  At first the game was that Ava was Princess Peach and she would make either me or Jon be Bowser and we had to try to marry her and the other parent would be Mario and rescue her from the marriage.  Then she decided she liked Bowser and wanted him to marry Princess Peach.  So on this day, she made Bowser a marrying bouquet out of the gorgeous flowers and nuts that fell off of the trees and bushes surrounding the house.


We also watched the sunset and the settling in of the birds during sunset.  Can you see why we were addicted to these moments?




Hawaii Days 1 and 2

We went to Hawaii again this year.  I love it so much and I thought it might be helpful to write out all our activities.  After three years I feel like I know Kauai and I want to capture all of Ava’s activities.


We take a morning flight from SLC to Honolulu and then from Honolulu to Kauai.  This puts us in Kauai around 6:30pm.  I like this flight a lot and it’s much better than the first year when we took SLC to LAX and LAX to Kauai because it’s too easy to miss LAX flights.  I hate LAX.

Ava loves flying, but this is the first year that she was concerned about leaving SLC for vacation.  She already missed Teddy.  We wound up talking about him almost every day of the vacation.  Next, Ava was sad to leave her nanny for a week.  And then she asked for kombucha or “bucha” as she calls it and she was really disappointed that it wasn’t an option.

Also, Ava is not a fan of having her picture taken lately so they often look like this:


Day 1

The planes that go to Kauai are a bit rickety so they usually have problems.  I don’t think they have ever arrived on schedule.  One time the tire was flat and they had to fly one in from Honolulu.  This time there was a mysterious problem with the engine and we had to find a brand new plane.

So we arrived around 7:30, which was 10:30 Utah time and Jon and I were ready for dinner.  Ava fell asleep in the car and we found dinner at Savage Shrimp because it’s the only place open after 8:00 anywhere near our rental house.

Day 2

I woke up at 4:45 and I think Ava made it until 5:30.  We hung out until the birds outside started waking up with the sunrise and the family sat on the porch and watched the birds.  I didn’t get pictures this morning because we were taking it all in.  I find it pretty magical to listen to the birds wake up and see them leaving all the trees.  But we watched them every morning so I have pictures below.

Ava was still sad about leaving her home until she saw the ocean outside the window.  Then she started asking to go to the beach and we were at Baby Beach by 7:30 am and we were completely alone until around 9.



Baby Beach is aptly named because it has a series of rocks that prevent the waves from getting too intense.  The rocks also prevent people from waking more than two feet deep.  Ava loves it.


This year was also great because she was interested in playing in the sand.  The first year Ava spent hours digging sand, but the second year she barely played.  This year she wanted us to make sand cities.


For lunch we went to one of my favorite restaurants: Da Crack.  Da Crack is a reference to a butt crack.  You can see their sign here.  I had some hilarious discussions with Ava about the meaning of the sign.

After lunch we went to MacArthur Beach, which we call Crazy Beach because the waves are so intense.  Both Jon and I hold Ava the whole time because the waves will knock you down when you’re only knee deep in the water.



After the beach we ate dinner at the Shrimp Shack, which has this papaya ginger tartar sauce that I am going to spend the next year trying to replicate.



Ava is 3.5 Years Old

I miss the old format of describing Ava.  In honor of her turning 3.5, I thought I’d write one.

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava has great motor skills.  She’s very close to being able to brush her teeth on her own, she just needs help with the back parts of her teeth.
  • Speaking of teeth, Ava likes to have intricate routines.  When I brush her teeth, it’s three turns for brushing, and four mouthwash rinses using two different mouthwashes.
  • She’s taken an interest in other kids.  When we go places she asks if her friends will be there.  The other weekend we went to a place with a bouncy house.  She really liked this girl there about her age and started holding her hand.  I’m working on finding more friends for her.
  • Ava is getting really good at drawing. She makes pictures of people with identifiable features. She’s working on their expressions, so she’ll use eyebrows to show anger and mouths to show happy smiles. And she concentrates so hard when she draws! We try to feed her interests and respect her needs. I remember getting so mad when I was little and people didn’t take me seriously, so I understand.
  • The picture below is Peach Cat, which is Ava’s name for Princess Peach from Mario Odyssey.


Foods and Liquids

  • Ava loves potatoes in every form.  Last weekend she had mashed potatoes for dinner, then french fries for lunch, then potato pancakes for dinner.  Then she demanded more french fries.
  • I think spaghetti is a close second.  Every time I put a soup in front of Ava she says, I don’t like [color] soup.  I like the red one, i.e. spaghetti.
  • Ava will eat any food that is created with egg beaters because she thinks it’s dessert.  She ate a ton of sweet potato souffle, even though she doesn’t like sweet potatoes, because I made the dish with an egg beater.  It will be interesting to see how I can make quesadillas using egg beaters.



  • I love daylight savings in the fall because it means Ava starts going to bed at a reasonable hour.  I was able to push her bedtime back to about 9 p.m., which is glorious and she naturally wakes up between 7:30 and 8:00.  Before daylight savings her regular bedtime was 10:30 and I had to wake her up at 8:30.  Do not wake Ava up, it might ruin the whole day.


Language Skills

  • Ava’s language is amazing.  She says some very charming phrases like when she ran down the halls of the library saying “I’m running amuck!”
  • Ava is obsessed with the characters from Mario Odyssey: Mario, Bowser, and Princess Peach. She can talk about these characters for 30 minutes and she often wants us to act out different characters and tell you what the characters would say.

No Papparazzi


2017 Garden

Gardening was so much fun this year.  We had our usual cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes and we added melons, tomatillos, and herbs.

Pro-tip for planting melons: that one little seedling will result in many melons, so you don’t need to plant four seedlings for each type of melon in the garden.  I think I’ve eaten enough melons for the next two years.  I did enjoy watermelon gazpacho and watermelon feta salad, though.  Watermelon gazpacho used watermelon, cucumbers, basil, and jalapeños from the garden, so it was the ultimate dish.


Peppers and tomatoes, on the other hand, can be combined in infinite ways and I’ll never get tired of them.



Tomatillos are amazing and I’ll use them so much more now.  I made salsa; a recipe that is described as a mole, but was more like a soup; and a dish with shrimp and tomatillos.  So good!  The dish below is tomatillo salsa, poached egg, smoked trout, and homemade potato pancake.  It’s a very simple amazing recipe.


I also filled planter two boxes up with herbs.  When we were receiving a CSA I discovered that fresh herbs make all the difference.  Dried tarragon doesn’t taste like anything, but fresh tarragon has a wonderful slightly licorice flavor.  I filled the planter boxes with rosemary, basil, tarragon, thyme, lavender (which never produced, but maybe next year), and oregano.  The results were amazing.  You don’t need butter and cheese when you can get flavor through herbs.

The herbs are also nice because I make homemade kombucha and it tastes amazing with herbs.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had basil blueberry kombucha or cherry rosemary kombucha.


I’m sad that the season is over, but now I can make all these hearty meals with mushrooms.  In the summer we are so overwhelmed with garden vegetables that I don’t like buying produce from the store.  All winter I can buy guilt free.



Older Posts »